March 4, 2021

THE BE-RO GINGERBREAD CAKE - the taste of my childhood


Nick is not really much of a cake person.  Although for someone who claims not to like cake very much he has made some pretty special cakes himself.  He often tackles the recipes I would shy away from because they're too fiddly  - he just gets the ingredients weighed out and gets on with it, head down and completely focused. 

 However, of all the cakes in the world, his absolute favourite is a ginger cake, and he waxes lyrical about the Be-Ro book ginger cake.

I got out my copy of the Be-Ro book and as I weighed out the ingredients memories of past ginger cakes came to mind.  My mum and my grandma used to make this same cake, using the Be-Ro book recipe, it was a family favourite.  It was made in a small oblong meat roasting tin.  We didn't possess a huge collection of different tins in those days.  There was a pair of sponge tins, a bun tin for fairy cakes, maids of honour and mince pies, a baking tray and a deep cake tin for the Christmas cake.  It was very much a case of make do with what we had and in fact a lot of old fashioned recipes didn't specify the size of tin at all.

This recipe uses the simplest of ingredients that would have been standard fare in everyone's pantry in the 1950's and 60's.  No fancy flours or the kinds of ginger that feature so often in modern recipes.  I doubt my mum would have ever even seen or heard of fresh ginger.  Ginger came dried in a jar.  (In fact I'm not sure that in the very early days if it didn't come in a tin.)

I hadn't made one of these for donkey's years.  Yet it's the best ginger cake you could wish for.  Just look at that sticky, glossy top and the dense, even crumb.  It has a spicy treacliness that's absolutely divine.  The taste of my childhood and just as way back then, the kitchen smelled wonderful all afternoon.


225g plain flour
a pinch of salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g soft dark brown sugar
100g margarine
175g black treacle
50g golden syrup
150ml milk
2 med eggs, beaten
50g sultanas (optional, I omitted them)


First, measure your margarine, treacle and golden syrup directly into a small saucepan.  Heat gently until the margarine has melted, stirring all the time.  Remove from the heat, stir in the milk and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 150°C / 130° fan / gas mk 2.  Grease and line the bottom of an 18cm square or 20cm round tin.

Sift the flour, salt, spices and bicarb into a bowl.  Stir in the sugar and mix well to combine.  Add the beaten eggs and mix well.  Stir in the cooled treacle mixture.  Add the sultanas if using and stir again.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 - 1¼ hours.  Mine was done in 1 hour so check early on.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Cuts into around 16 slices.


  1. This looks like a perfect ginger cake, just look at that lovely, sticky top! I'm not sure if it's the same recipe but my granny had a few different ginger cake recipes and I know one of them was for a big roasting tin. I'll have to have a dig through my handwritten recipes tin, but I'll definitely bookmark this one to try out sometime. Thanks!

    You're so right about the variety of tins these days. I just had the same number of tins as you listed when I started baking when I was little and now I have a cupboard that is so full I cause an avalanche every time I venture in to it!

    1. Jo, same here! In fact I now store my Bundt tins and other fancy tins in the wardrobe. Getting them out of the kitchen cupboard (and back in) was becoming like a military exercise!

  2. My mouth is watering already - but 95% of my herbs and spices - and my black treacle and golden syrup - are all safely packed for Moving Day. 39 days and counting. And yes- my childhood home had the minimum of baking tins - same as yours , plus a loaf tin I think. No Bundts, loose bottomed tarts or crinkly perforated sheets for re-heating baguettes

    1. Angela, I remember that feeling, being all packed up and waiting to move. If you're anything like me it will feel like Christmas all over again when you unpack....and wonder where on earth you're going to put it all!!

  3. Looks wonderful, I have been making spice cakes recently

    1. David, it's what we need when the weather is still cold I think.

  4. That really is a classic ginger cake in my opinion - the sticky top is the vital part of any great ginger cake. Just perfect for a cold day. I remember ginger being a rare thing when I was young and I certainly never saw fresh ginger. My grandmother was the only one in my family to buy ginger and that was always crystallised ginger. I'm not sure if that came in a tin or a jar. My grandmother kept it locked in a cabinet in case anyone tried to steal it, so I didn't see it too often.

    1. Phil, I love the idea of your grandmother keeping her ginger locked up!

    2. Thinking about it, wasn't it cystallised ginger that came in those fancy ceramic jars with a little domed lid? Wonder if you can still get those.